Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Stocking the freezer

I spent part of the morning looking through sales fliers and coupons, making out my "stock up" grocery list. I realized the time had come... I had to clean out the freezer to see what lurked in the far bottom corners before I spent any more of my limited funds on meat or fish.

You must understand, the garage is still cold! However, after some self whining... I finally decided I had all the materials ready... so let's get with it.

I've tried to figure out how to organize this freezer and actually made it a subject of prayer. Here is what came to my mind...

Yesterday I purchased two boxes of Zip Lock storage "Big Bags"... one with 4 extra large bags, the other with 5 large bags. These are the kind that are used for holding toys, household items, etc.

I used each of the extra large bags as follows: one for all deboned chicken breasts, one for all other chicken (except whole chickens), one for all ground beef, and one for all other beef. These are huge bags.

I used each large bag as follows: one for frozen veggies, one for frozen fruit, one to put the two whole roasting chickens in, one for fish, and one just for the packages of cranberries I stock up on at Christmas.

I plan to purchase one more box of the large size and use one for my frozen butter, and another for my grated cheese, another will be used for things like nuts that I freeze in bulk.

These will also be perfect for holding 5 lb. bags of flour in the freezer for a few days to "debug" them before placing in Rubbermaid type containers on my shelves.

I place everything I freeze in the original package and in a Zip Lock bag. Since I reuse these Zip Lock bags over and over, they last "forever". The only time they don't get reused if when I defrost ground beef in that bag and it "catches" any leaks from the package. Good way to keep the refrigerator clean, too!

I use the regular Zip Lock bags for most of the items I purchase at the grocery store. The only time I use Freezer Zip Lock bags is when I'm putting something in them that is not originally in a bag (for instance, berries from a U-pick farm). They need that extra protection.

Most of the time, I can put only one item in each package but I can get two butters in each and three packages of shredded cheese. I buy shredded cheese when it comes on sale. With the whole chickens, I leave them in their original plastic grocery bag. Even when I put them in the Large Zip Lock bag, I kept each one in their original grocery bag... makes it easy to use the bag's handle to take the bird out of the freezer.

Of course, with something as large as a frozen turkey, I'd just place it "as is" in the freezer.

Here is what I have finished so far. It will only require another few minute's work to finish the rest when I purchase one more box of the Large Zip Lock bags tomorrow. I will use the baskets only for homebaked items and perhaps things like concentrated orange juice.

Oh, what did I realize about my budget? I needed more ground beef, absolutely no chicken, and I should take advantage of the buy one- get one free talapia and shrimp offers.

By the way, I left the Large and Extra Large storage bags open since the food is already well protected. Since they have handles, it was so easy to look through the freezer, find the bag with what I was looking for, and just bring out that storage bag!

It is a good thing to pray about sorting out one's freezer!


Carrot Top said...

The freezer looks great! Very well organized!

I just bought a huge amount of ground round since it was 85% lean and on sale for $1.94/pound. This morning I took half of it, browned and drained it, and put it in the Ziplock Freezer bags. Have you found that ground beef keeps better after it's cooked, or is it better to store it raw?

I needed some extra freezer space, so that's why I browned half of mine.

the feathered nest said...

Hi Brenda, that looks so well organized! I will have to look for those bags.

So you don't rewrap things in foil, you keep everything in it's orginal store wrapping and then put it in a zip lock freezer bag? I must try that. I usually take everything and wrap it in heavy duty foil.

Do you use a freezer inventory? I'm never quite sure what's in mine (especially if it's at the bottom and I can't see it). So I was thinking for making some sort of inventory with a tick mark system.


Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

CT, I do often store uncooked ground beef and some that I've cooked ahead of time (usually with an onion and green pepper already to use for a few dishes). That was a great price!

Manuela,the reason I started putting items in their original pkgs. in Zip Lock bags was so I could see them more clearly.

I am going to keep a freezer inventory but I'm still figuring out the best way to do it. It will probably be just for frozen meats... not sure?

Quinne said...

Hi Brenda :) Thanks for sharing how you do this! Lots of good info and ideas here. Love, Q

Jennifer said...

What a great idea! I have a chest freezer that I am forever digging through in hopes of finding what I need. I will definitely be implementing this method. Thank you!

Abounding Treasures said...

This is a great method of storing items in a "deep" chest freezer! I am going to implement some of them.

I had never heard of "de-bugging" flour in a freezer before you fill Rubbermaid containers with it ~ what exactly does freezing it do?


Adrienne said...

What a great way to organize your freezer. I love those big zipper bags. I use them in my sewing room for unfinished quilts (until I can get to them!) and in other places in the house. Your freezer is looking so organized. Thanks for the tips.

Thank you for stopping by my blog and for leaving your sweet comment. Please come by again and visit. I've been reading your blog for nearly a year and have often been so touched with what you share.

Anonymous said...

Dear Brenda;

What a great idea! I might just do this...I wonder what is at the bottom of mine? lol ;)

love M.

Brenna said...

brenda, i don't think i've ever seen that much food in one house before! if you have time, i tagged you in my post today.


Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Brilliant! I don't have a larger freezer, but I know some folks who struggle with theirs. I'll be sending them right over!

Maggie Ann said...

Hey, you did a great job and transformed a dreaded job into one to be proud of! I cringe when I think of cleaning out the freezer alright! We bought an upright that you have to defrost yourself and it frosts up quite quickly. It isn't a terribly hard or prolonged job to defrost but....shudder. Who wants to spend half a day doing that? I'd rather play on my pc....=)

eyelandgirl said...

Hi Brenda,

I know this is an older post, but I just wanted to thank you for the tip about using the large size freezer bags to contain smaller bagged items. This has made a huge difference in my chest freezer, it's one of the best tips ever. I was using plastic rectangular baskets, which worked OK, but they took up a lot of space and didn't always fit well. The freezer bags take up less space as we consume what's in them. I keep one for each type of meat, labeling the large bag instead of all the little ones. And I can tell at a glance when I need to replenish something. Thanks again, and keep up all those great pantry posts.